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tv   American History TV  CSPAN  November 1, 2014 4:40pm-4:51pm EDT

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c-span.org/localcontent. and we continue now with our look at the history of colorado springs. this is american history tv on c-span 3. >> nikola tesla became fascinated with this new creation going on in the world electricity. when he came to this country, he started working right away with thomas edison. but there was some conflict there, because what developed is what's referred to as the current wars, because edison was very committed to using direct current, and tesla understood that alternating current was more economical and more
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effective and could be transferred over a great distance at a far less cost. but tesla's interest in a lot of other areas of physics and electricity, and eventually he comes to colorado in 1899. >> this ek exhibition sort of explores some of the ideas that tesla was exploring during his career, through historical information and reproduction of photographs. and then also through artists' projects that may be mine some of this same scientific or creative territory. that's one of the things we found interesting to explore with the exhibition, is some of the overlaps and artistic process and scientific process sort of trying to explore the
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creative aspects of science. there is sort of this misconception that science is totally straightforward that there is -- that the process of trial and error doesn't involve equalities like intuition or creativity and i think that's really been proven untrue. there is this very creative sort of intuitive piece to science. and we wanted to sort of make that a little more transparent, thinking about tesla and his process, and how his ideas seem to come, in some cases, from nowhere, where the trajectory from where he started to where he ended up seems a little unclear. we wanted to look at that, that process. what does that mean for a scientist, to sort of make intuitive leaps or seemingly seemingly
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intuitive leaps? this piece is by artist bradshaw in collaboration with bishop. and it's called tesla radio rock, part of an ongoing series of bradshaw's, where she explores the resident capacities of rocks to transmit radio signal. and one of the things that tesla was exploring when he was here in colorado springs, was he was trying to understand whether the earth had enough resonant capacity that you could transmit electricity and radio signals directly through the earth to get a transmission to the other side of the globe instantaneously. that's one of the things he was exploring here. he left colorado springs thinking that this was a possibility, because he did find some resonant capacity of the earth. unfortunately, it's not resonant enough to do what he had hoped it would do. and then the intergalactic
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signals reference a phenomenon that he experienced when he was here. he heard some very mathematically precise and repeated radio bursts when he was listening with his large receivers. and he felt that the only conclusion that he could come to was that it was originating from mars and that it was a sign of intelligent life because of its mathematical regularity. and scientists later on came back and replicated the experiments that he was doing and found that what he was listening to was radio bursts from jupiter's moon, which comes in these very regular mathematically predictable bursts. we could hear that space noise transmitted through the rock in this piece. >> tesla had been -- he was friends with a man named leonard
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curtis. and he knew some of the experiments that tesla wanted to conduct. so he invited him to come here. and you know, he said, if you want to test the upper atmosphere in new york, you're basically at sea level or ten feet above sea level. but he said if you come here, you're at 6,000 feet, so that made a lot of sense to tesla. so he arrived here on may 17 of 1899, and he was here then for the next seven months. the first thing, when he arrives here, is he works out with leonard curtis the agreement that he would have some space to build a laboratory and also that curtis was on the board of the power company in colorado springs, so curtis provided him all the electricity he needed in his lab. he was interested in testing out his theories on wireless
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teleography, being able to send messages or photographs or music without using wires. we have to understand the context of that time, that if you wanted to send a message to someone in another city there had to be a wire. so you either used a telephone or a telegraph. but by that point tesla understood scientifically that we could send things without using wires. but he wanted to test his theories. his phrase, when he gave his first talk here was he wanted to send a message from pikes peak to paris. he knew he could use a wireless method to -- in distances of say, 50 feet. he had done that on little boats on a pool, with electronics able to control those. but he needed to have a transmitter that had far more
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power. and that's one of the things he did at his laboratory, is developed this transmitter that created ten million volts in order to send messages or whatever long distances. and he also had to develop receivers that would connect properly with that transmitter. so the pictures that we've seen of him at his laboratory, which was about 222 feet tall and he tested out what we know as the tesla coil. basically having lightning going off in the room, because the tesla coil takes current that we
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get normally and increases the frequency to a point where it was an enormous amount of voltage. the great story, or one of the popular stories that came out of his experiments here was that he and an assistant were working one night, testing this for the first time, and he told the assistant to throw the switch, and all of a sudden there was electricity filling his lab. it was creating thunder. it went out the top. and then, in about five or six seconds, it went off. and tesla said -- asked his assistant, why did you shut that off? and he said i didn't. but what had happened is he blew out the power plant in town. but on terms of a practical -- the practical things that came out of his work here, he certainly laid the basis for x-rays for fluorescent lights, and a number of the things that
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we have today. and he was one of a number of scientists at that time that made a major contribution to the technological age we have today. >> lout the weekend, american history tv is featuring colorado springs, colorado. our city's tour staff recently traveled there to learn about its rich history. learn more about colorado springs and other stops on c-span's cities tour at c-span.org/local content. you're watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. >> next, on american history tv, author and journalist howard blum describes german espionage in the u.s. with a focus on the years 1915 to 1917, before america entered world war i. in his book, "dark invasion
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1915: germany's secret war and the hunt for the first terrorist cell in america," he details how german spies engaged in sabotage warfare ands a nation -- and assassination attempts. he also profiles tom tonni, who helped develop a modern counterterrorism strategy. this event was hosted by the new york military affairs symposium. it's about an hour. >> good evening and welcome! i am pleased to welcome howard blum an investigative journal journalist and author of the new york times best seller, "dark invasion," as well as many other great books. he is currently a contributing editor at "vanity fair." while at the new york military affairsnew york -- whileat the new york times, he was twice nom nominated f

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